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Torpedo boat's beer surprise

PUBLISHED: 09:21 26 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:01 03 July 2010

IT was a popular pint at pubs the length and breadth of Great Yarmouth, but in Christmas 1952 supplies of Lacon's beer were delivered to some particularly appreciative drinkers.

IT was a popular pint at pubs the length and breadth of Great Yarmouth, but in Christmas 1952 supplies of Lacon's beer were delivered to some particularly appreciative drinkers.

Crates of the famous old Yarmouth brewer's Audit Ale were among the presents taken to crew members of a Danish Navy patrol boat stranded on Scroby Sands. The beer was among festive treats delivered to the crew of the Havornen by a party including Lacon's then head brewer, Michael Falcon.

Now high steward of Yarmouth, Mr Falcon recently rediscovered photos of the supplies being taken out to the crew on a cold December day 57 years ago.

Mr Falcon was granted the freedom of the borough and opened the new Caister lifeboat visitor centre in October.

He said: “When the boat ran aground I was very anxious to try to help and remember walking across Scroby Sands to reach the crew.

“Coming from Denmark, the sailors would not have tasted anything like Audit Ale. It was very strong, about 8pc, traditionally brewed for the Cambridge colleges and sold in pubs up and down Yarmouth. At the time I had not been head brewer at Lacon's for very long and had undertaken part of my training in Denmark the previous year.”

After finding the photos at his home Mr Falcon gave them to Caister Lifeboat director Harry Barker.

The rescue of the Danish crew was one of the many memorable events in the history of the lifeboat, which this year celebrated 40 years of independence.

The Caister boat, Jose Neville, retrieved nine of the Danish crew of 13 after a previous rescue attempt by the Gorleston lifeboat the Louise Stephens had proved unsuccessful.

Weather conditions were so severe the Caister crew had to shelter in Yarmouth harbour to wait for the storm to subside.

The Danish torpedo boat had been taking part in an exercise with the Royal Navy and was marooned for six weeks, before being towed off the sandbank by two Danish naval boats and an Admiralty salvage vessel. Two missiles removed from the Havornen at the time of the operation were later recovered.

In a letter of thanks to the lifeboat crew, the then Danish ambassador said: “The splendid way in which the lifeboat crew performed its perilous task has won the admiration and deep gratitude of the officers and men of the Havornen.”

Among the Caister crew members was the legendary John 'Skipper' Woodhouse, who was instrumental of the setting up of the independent lifeboat. Skipper Woodhouse died in 1999, 30 years to the day of the RNLI giving up responsibility for Caister Lifeboat.

Lacon's brewery closed in the late 1960s, but Audit Ale has been successfully revived by the town's Blackfriars Brewery.

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